Honouring the cultures and cultural norms of places one visits sometimes has some unexpected impacts on one’s wardrobe.


Take shoes, for example.

I never realized how devoid of closed-toed shoes my closet was until I took stock ahead of a trip to Japan earlier this year. The choice? A pair of funky brown lace-ups, navy clogs, gardening shoes, two pairs of boots, three sets of sneakers and a killer pair of hiking boots.

And absolutely none appropriate for a summertime visit, especially not one including a banquet with HRH Princess Takamado.

On an afterwork mission I managed to snag two pairs of ballet flats — one in brown suede and another in a multi-coloured tweed that works with many items of clothes.

Now, packing for a trip to parts Middle East and North Africa, I am going to be reunited with the uber-comfy salwar kameez outfits I bought in India and wore in Dubai last year.

They will be reprised in the need to cover up from ankle to wrist. But even the best wardrobe capsule has to comprise of more than two outfits if you’re in situ for a week in one place.

That’s when I realized that the only two full-length skirts I posses are in fact sarongs. Hmm, the nuns at my convent school would be tut tutting right now.

Fortunately this is something easily righted. Clearly it called for a trip to some of New Yorks more ecclectic and inexpensive outlets — chain stores with names like Strawberry, street markets and my personal favourite, stores in the subway.

And so I am now the proud owner of three new skirts. They’re soft, comfortable and 100% cotton (yes!) They’re also something I could smuggle a few toy breed dogs under, if they managed to keep up with my stride.

It’s not something I would ever have thought of buying, but hey, that’s a small price for being both comfortable and culturally appropriate.

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